Underneath all the fat in American-style nachos lies some healthy eating. We put a classic fast food into a good nutritional niche.
Credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner

A plate of nachos―with heaps of ground beef, cheese sauce, lard-refried beans, guacamole, and sour cream over fried and salted tortilla chips―satisfies a comfort-food craving. A lot less comforting: That nacho serving exceeds daily needs for sodium, saturated fat, and calories for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

We could see the good-for-you potential in the meat, veggies, and avocados, but didn’t want to skimp on the crunchy-salty-cheesy deliciousness in our lighter version. So our recipe features regular tortilla chips covered with bacon-studded beans. We shred roasted lean pork tenderloin and scatter the bits over the bean layer. A bit of finely shaved low-fat cheese and a salsa with avocado top the dish in place of mounds of guacamole, sour cream, and cheese sauce. Serve with a cool margarita… and don’t feel bad about taking a nice siesta afterward.

1,258 calories per serving  |   517 calories per serving
74.6 grams total fat  |  26.9 grams total fat
29 grams saturated fat  |  6.8 grams saturated fat
2,199 milligrams sodium  |  991 milligrams sodium
Ground beef  |  Shredded pork tenderloin
12 ounces shredded full-fat cheese  |  5 ounces finely shredded reduced-fat cheese
View Recipe: Pork and Pinto Bean Nachos

TECHNIQUE: 3 Key Ingredients that Build Smoky Flavors

  • Commercial chili powder typically includes a blend of cumin, oregano, garlic, and ground chiles. The cumin brings an earthiness that works well with the beans and other spices.
  • Then come the chipotle chiles― smoked jalapeño peppers that we love canned in adobo sauce: They’re easy to puree or chop. And you can add the sauce to the beans, too.
  • Just a few slices of applewood-smoked bacon dial up the nachos’ smokehouse flavor.